If you have been reading our sustainable living series, you already know that we have stopped generating any wet waste for the trash picker. In the previous post on managing dry waste, I talked about how we are trying to reduce dry waste. In this continuation post I want to talk about more ways to reduce dry waste.
Use your own compostable bags
When you go out to buy groceries, the vegetable and fruit vendors typically give out plastic bags. These plastic bags are one of the major pollutants in the world right now. Although they are being marketed as compostable green plastics, they don't really live up to their name. To compost those bags one needs to clean them and properly dispose of them in a facility that recycles them. The best alternative is go green. Use a couple of cotton/jute bags for your vegetables and fruits. This is not to say that you should throw away all the plastic bags you have at home. Kindly reuse them. If not, you can find people who upcycle them into beautiful crafts. You can find a lot on google.
Bring your own stuff
Avoid using plastic cups at tea shops or juice centers. Instead take your own cups or bottles. Invest in steel straws. These are a lifesaver. You must have heard of how ocean creatures and birds are getting themselves caught in the straws. When you are going out for some coconut water, carry the metal straw. Drink up, wash and reuse. Take your own cutlery while traveling. When you go out to buy meat or eggs, decline the plastic bags. Instead take your own container and ask them to fill it. Prefer rechargeable batteries.
Do it yourself
Make your own products. I learned to make all my cleaning products at home. Bioenzymes, soaps, toothpaste, and shampoos. This has resulted in a major decrease in purchases from outside and consequently less plastic waste. If you cannot make your own products, purchase package free soaps.
Use eco-friendly options
Switch to bamboo brush if possible. Don't replace plastic brushes often. You don't have to replace your toothbrushes every couple of months like some say. Reuse them when they are well used. I have collected all my old plastic toothbrushes and I use them for cleaning sinks, bottles, and removing aphids from my plants.
Switch to sustainable menstrual products. All the tampons, menstrual pads take too long to disintegrate. To add to it, once used up, they are a health hazard for the rag pickers. Menstrual cups and cloth pads are available abundantly nowadays. Switch to these eco-friendly options and you will never want to go back. Switch to cloth diapers for children as well. Invest in cloth napkins vs toilet and paper rolls.
Avoid buying cheap plastic toys, brooms, dish scrubs. They are meant to break and disintegrate easily. Either buy good quality one or switch to eco friendly alternatives. Use natural loofahs, coconut coir for dish scrubs.
Avoid when you can
Avoid plastic bottles if possible. Switch to stainless steel/glass containers for storing your edibles in your kitchen. Switch to slow fashion. Always ask yourself, if you need to purchase a new set of clothes or shoes etc that are in fashion. Try and avoid buying vegetables sold in mesh packaging.
Buy in bulk where possible. That way the amount of plastic coming into the house will reduce. For example instead of buying 10 packets of 500 gm oil, you could go for a 5 liter bottle. Try to find places where they allow you to bring your own containers and fill it.
Reuse cardboards. Make crafts with your children. If it doesn't work, give to your local raddiwala. Switch from earbuds to cleaning ears with wet cloth or oiling them before bath. Recycle dry waste. Some organizations where you can send your dry waste are @aarohana_ecosocial, @imxchangeonline, and @raddiconnect. You can find more information on Facebook and Google as well.
Don't get overwhelmed trying to get to zero waste or removing plastic from your life. Switch slowly. It's more important to reduce your consumption than switching everything to eco-friendly products. Think of how not to get new materials into the house.
Finally, what matters is what kind of future we are giving to our children. It doesn't matter if you are not a fully zero waste family or who doesn't use plastic at all or who has only eco-friendly materials at home. Finding alternatives, thinking of reducing our consumption at all levels should be our foundation and the path forward for a better life and for the future to flourish.
Hopefully this post helps you in starting your journey towards sustainable living. I am still in the process of figuring out how to reduce and recycle electronic waste.